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Preposition - At

Preposition - At

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Preposition – At

 

Hello! In this lesson we will learn to use the preposition "at". In previous lessons, we have learned to use the prepositions "in, on, over, under, beside, to, from," and "for".  

The preposition "at" is most commonly used to indicate a location. For example, we might say "Jennifer and David are sitting at the table." or  "David is standing at the door." .

Similar to other prepositions, the preposition "at" is also used in a more abstract way to indicate a certain time. For example, we might say "David and Jennifer eat breakfast at 7:00.". It is used to indicate presence at a location. For example, we might say "Jennifer is not at home; she is at work."

The preposition "at" is also used to indicate a direction. For example, we might say "Look at the clouds in the sky.".

Sometimes the preposition "at" is used in abstract ways to indicate a state or condition. We might say "The two countries are not at war; they are at peace." or "David is at ease on Saturdays.".

Sometimes we also use the preposition "at" to indicate an abstract place in time. For example, we might say "at the beginning of the book" or "at the end of the book" or "at last".

Now that we have learned the meaning of the preposition "at", let us listen to the dialog. In this dialog, David and Jennifer are talking to each other on the telephone.

David:  Hi Jennifer. Where are you?

Jennifer:  I am at home, sitting at the supper table. Where are you?

David:  I am at work.  I am looking at the clock.

Jennifer:  I am looking at the clock too. When will you be home?

David:  I will be home at 9:30.

Jennifer: I will be waiting at the door.

Now that we have heard the dialog, let us take a closer look at the sentences.

After David greets Jennifer and asks where she is, Jennifer says "I am at home, sitting at the supper table. Where are you?". We notice that Jennifer first uses the preposition "at" to indicate her presence at a location – "at home". She then uses the preposition "at" to indicate the location "at the supper table.".

After she asks David where he is, David says "I am at work. I am looking at the clock.". The first time he uses the preposition "at", he uses it to indicate his presence "at work.". He then uses the preposition "at" with its directional meaning: "I am looking at the clock.".

As a side note, we have learned in a previous lesson that the expressions "at home" and "at work" are two exceptions to the usual use of the preposition. A similar expression is "at church". We notice that in these three expressions, we do not use the word "the". In most other expressions, we use the word "the". For example, we would say "at the museum", "at the airport", and "at the office".

Jennifer says "I am looking at the clock too.". In this sentence, she uses the preposition "at" with its directional meaning. She then asks "When will you be home?".

David answers "I will be home at 9:30.". In this statement, David uses the preposition "at in its temporal use – to pinpoint a time: "at 9:30.". Other expressions in which we use the preposition "at" in its temporal meaning are "at noon", "at midnight", and "at night.".  Jennifer could have said to David "9:30 is late at night." or "You will have supper late at night.".

Jennifer says "I will be waiting at the door." In this sentence, Jennifer uses the preposition "at" to indicate a location: "at the door".

Now that we have heard the usage of the preposition "at" in the dialog, let us listen to the dialog one more time. Listen for the varying uses of the preposition "at".

David:  Hi Jennifer. Where are you?

Jennifer:  I am at home, sitting at the supper table. Where are you?

David:  I am at work.  I am looking at the clock.

Jennifer:  I am looking at the clock too. When will you be home?

David:  I will be home at 9:30.

Jennifer: I will be waiting at the door.

Great job! We have now learned to use the preposition "at" in various ways. We can use it to indicate location in time and space. We can also use it to indicate abstract location, such as "at the beginning" or "at the end". Now that you know how to use this little but important word, incorporate it into your conversations in English.